Marsamxett Harbour sits on the north-west side of Valletta and, along with a series of major creeks (Sliema, Msida, and Lazzaretto provides calm mooring for boats. It’s separated from the Grand Harbour by the Valletta peninsula but together the two inlets make up the biggest natural harbor in Europe.
The towns of Sliema, Gzira, Ta’Xbiex, and Msida sprawl into each other along the northern edge of the harbor, while the southern side is lined with the battlements of Valletta and Floriana. A vast, slowly decaying 18th-century fortress stands on Manoel Island, as do ruins of an isolation hospital that was used in the 17th century to quarantine sailors suspected of having the plague.
Marsamxett Harbour is also home to Malta’s biggest yachting marina, which stretches right up Msida Creek to Ta’xbiex. You may pass by the harbor if you end up on a sightseeing cruise, and tours run from Sliema.
Things to know before you go
- The harbor makes for some great photographs, particularly around sunset.
- Don't skip on the sun protection, particularly if you're coming in the summer.
- Most access points to the harbor are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.
- St. Elmo Bay, on the northeastern shores of Valletta, is suitable for swimming.
How to get there
Marsamxett Harbour is bordered by Pieta, Balzunetta, Ta' Xbiex, Manouel Island, Sliema, and Valletta. If you want to actually get on the water, there’s a regular ferry service connecting VFS Valletta and Sliema during daylight hours, every day of the week. If you’re coming from Valletta on foot, it’s about a 10-minute walk to the edge of the water.
When to get there
The harbor is always lovely but if you're approaching it from the Ta' Xbiex side, you may want to come around sunset to take in the views. The summer months, particularly July and August, are the most pleasant for swimming, while winter can be cold and rainy.
In the center of Marsamxett Harbour, connected to the mainland by a bridge, sits Manoel Island, worth visiting if you're into history. The star attraction here is the 18th-century Fort Manoel, built in the Baroque style under the Order of Saint John. There's also a duck sanctuary near the bridge to the mainland, dubbed the "Duck Village," where visitors can feed ducks and other local waterfowl.
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- Teatru Manoel
- Malta 5D
- National Museum of Archaeology, Malta
- Grandmaster's Palace
- St. John's Co-Cathedral (Kon-Katidral ta' San Gwann)
- St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity (Spazju Kreattiv)
- Casa Rocca Piccola
- Auberge de Castille
- Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck
- Lascaris War Rooms
- Upper Barrakka Gardens
- Valletta Waterfront (Pinto Wharf)
- Ta’ Xbiex
- Fort St. Elmo & the National War Museum
- Lower Barrakka Gardens